Santa Claus ~ To Believe or Not To Believe, That’s the Question…

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When Kiki was born, one of the "Big Discussions" Alan and I had was "Do we try to make her believe in Santa?".   This has seemed to be a bigger issue than I would have ever imagined.  It’s just Santa, for cryin’-out-loud.  I mean, I believed when I was little, and I’m not warped.  Uhm, well, okay, yeah I am warped, but it wasn’t because of Santa.   I really wrestled with this… because, I didn’t want her to miss out on the mystery and magic that is a belief in Santa, but I also didn’t want to spend 5 or more years convincing her, only to tell her later… "Just kidding.  It’s a lie; I made it all up."   Someone once said they didn’t want their kids to then believe Jesus was all just make-believe as well.  Which to me, seemed a bit overboard, I mean, I didn’t get confused over that issue…but, well, hmmm.  I also heard about a lot of people who were simply devastated as a child when they found out the "truth" about Santa.  It really rocked their little kid worlds.  That seemed a little sad.  When I was a kid, I don’t really remember my parents making a big deal about Santa, but we did leave out milk and cookies for him, and my mom always had at least one gift with a "from Santa" tag on it, and she always bought special "Santa" designed Christmas wrapping paper that only those gifts were wrapped in.  When did I learn the truth?  I don’t know.  I think it was a gradual realization… like, if that great home-made easel came from Santa, what in the heck was dad doing out there in his workshop all month long while he wouldn’t let us in??  How come Santa’s handwriting looks just like mom’s?    I don’t remember being upset… we just kept playing along, thinking it was fun to be a part of the secret.  Then the year came my sister and I decided that Santa should fill stockings for mom and dad, not just us…so we made the cheesiest stockings ever… which my parents use to this day…!!  Well, we finally opted out for the truth.  We told Kiki all about the legends of Santa, St.Nick,  different ones around the world – we took her to see Santa if she wanted to (at first she did not want to; she has never been thrilled with people in costumes).    We’ve pretended about him, and left out milk and cookies, but she has always been "in the know" so to speak.  Sometimes, I felt bad, like maybe I’ve cheated her out of something, but you know what?  The magic, the wonder, it’s been there anyway.  In her mind, she still believes it somewhat, I know she does.  She has sat on ‘Santa laps’ that she thought looked totally fake; she has sat on laps of some she was pretty convinced "could really be the real Santa, mom"… and I’d just smile and say "maybe", and she’d play along… A couple years ago, she asked me if I’d start putting out a present "from Santa", and so I do.  Well, the sweetest thing ever happened today.    When I brought in the mail, I saw a letter for Kiki with my Mother-in-law’s printing on the front.  I almost blew it by hollering "Kiki, grammy sent you a letter" when I noticed that it was a "letter from Santa".  The postmark is from "Santa Claus Indiana" (which is very funny).  I gave it to Kiki, and she asked "who’s it from" and I said "well, I think it’s from Santa".  As she looked at the envelope, then read the letter, her eyes just grew bigger and bigger!  She kept repeating "holey cow, holey cow!!  Is this really from Santa?!"  Well, it’s not from me, I told her.  "Who did this?  Did you and daddy?"  No, babe, it wasn’t us… "holey cow…Holey COW!!  Maybe…maybe there is a Santa!"  It was so fun to be able to honestly tell her that "for reals" it wasn’t dad, or me, and no one at all had told me anything about it…!  She read it over and over.  She did say at one point "hey, doesn’t this look like grammy’s handwriting? But, no, it couldn’t be, because then it would have her return address on it, and it doesn’t…"  Oh my gosh, it was just so sweet!  She actually put the letter in a picture frame, (that had held a pic of her dad and I!)  and set it up on her nightstand.  I can’t wait to tell my m-i-l what an impact the letter had on Kiki!!  She will be thrilled, I know.  I wonder, what sort of monster have we let out of the bag with this, eh?  Nah, I know she has the truth, but she also has the thrill, the wonder, the joy…. the magic of Christmas.  Who could ask for more than that?
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5 responses »

  1. I have let my kids "lead the way" with the whole Santa thing. I grew up not believing in Santa (for religious reasons), but I have nothing against it. Amber ardently believed in Santa, but last year I just had to tell her the truth … she was asking TOOO many questions, and I couldn\’t keep lying to her! She seemed okay with it. This year, she said that she got into an argument with some classmates over Santa (bossy her saying "he\’s not REAL!"), and I said, "Amber, you must NEVER do that. These kids really believe in Santa, and their parents WANT them to. It\’s not up to you to destroy their fun. So the next day after school she said that they had talked about Santa some more, and now she DOES believe in him. So it is obviously a choice, because she knows the truth. And with my little ones, they believe, but they also know where all the presents come from (they found them in my closet, after all!). Today after church, Amber talked again about Santa, and she once again insisted that she believes in him. Then she asked me if I believe in him. I said, "I blieve in the spirit of Santa. You know, of generosity, giving, and such. I also told her about St. Nicholas, the real guy. But do you believe in him, Mom? I said, "I already told you what I think" (last year). Her response was, "Well I do believe in him."
     
    That\’s cool what your MIL did. A very forward-thinking woman!

  2. I told my kid from the beginning that Santa is a very fun pretend play for Christmas, but that there have been real people who were generous that Santa is modeled after. Sometimes they enjoy pretending he\’s real, even now that they are all teens and older.

  3. Tom and I have always been the ones who put things under the tree, we\’ve always put more emphasis on the nativity and the real love of the season… and yet, they still enjoy the thrill of it all, I guess.  We never took them to sit on Santa\’s lap… my mom pushed it when my back was turned (argh).  But avoiding it is not the big deal that it once was for this young mother. 🙂
    What your mother-in-law did… how sweet is she?  I love that!
    Hope you\’re having a great day!

  4. I don\’t remember how I learned the \’truth\’ about Santa.  It obviously didn\’t make that much of an inpact on my life.  I do recall that after I found out, I still pretended for years that I believed.  Almost like I was afraid to let my parents know that I knew the truth.  Today I seem to care more about Santa than I did when I was a kid.  Well, it isn\’t actually Santa as it is the spirit of Santa.  I think the message of Santa goes along so nicely with the true meaning of Christmas which is to live your life in such a way as to be in service to your fellow man.  That spirit of giving is so much more rewarding than receiving.

  5. We never encouraged the kids to believe in Santa- I didn\’t believe as a child, so it wasn\’t something I could pass on, so to speak. We\’ve shared the stories of St Nickolas & made Jesus the center of the holiday. I don\’t think my kids missed much (they were also scared of the big, costumed guy with the beard & wouldn\’t go near him!), & I didn\’t have that "moment of truth" explaining why I was pretending. But we use Father Christmas in decorating & talk about the spirit of giving Santa represents.

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